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scenic looking west

About Santee

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An Overview of the City

Key Attributes

Sunny climate, good schools, small-town friendliness. Santee prides itself on having a lean government that responds to its citizens' concerns.Collectively, these are among the key attributes of the City of Santee, which in 2016 had an estimated population of 58,000. Quality-of-life issues are important to local residents, who simultaneously value the abundance of open space as well as convenient shopping in the city’s retail core. Santee also boasts a low crime rate and a median annual household income in 2015 of $79,667, which was 21 percent higher than the state average. 


Santee is ideally located between the Pacific Ocean and the mountains of the Cleveland National Forest. While Santee is considered part of the East County Region, the city is only 18 freeway miles from the San Diego’s premier beaches.  Santee is connected to the coastline by State Route 52, a six-lane freeway that connects Interstate 5 in La Jolla to State Route 67.  State Route 125 also intersects with State Route 52, forming a transportation hub in the heart of Santee.

Santee has nurtured a vibrant local economy by providing for a balance of retail, commercial and residential uses. The 700-acre Town Center district forms a downtown core comprised of business parks, high-density residential and retail businesses that feed off the synergy of Santee Trolley Square shopping complex and the Metropolitan Transit System trolley station.

Recent Upgrades

The city recently invested $24 million to upgrade the Prospect Avenue industrial corridor. The corridor is adjacent to Gillespie Field, San Diego County’s largest general aviation airport, which is slated for redevelopment and expansion. Within the corridor and beyond, Santee is emerging as a hotspot for craft breweries. The city recently approved plans for a 112,500-square-foot Karl Strauss Brewery headquarters facility with brewery operations, tasting room, restaurant and event center.

Educational Institutions, Special Districts

Santee incorporated December 1, 1980 as a city manager form of government with a directly elected mayor. Water and sewer services are provided by Padre Dam Municipal Water District. The Santee School District and Grossmont Union High School District oversee K-12 education. Higher education facilities include San Diego Christian College, a 4-year private accredited college located in Town Center. Nearby are San Diego State University and Grossmont Community College.

Open Space

Surrounded on three sides by chaparral-covered hills, the city is bisected by the San Diego River. The river forms a linear greenbelt containing parks, trails and more than 1,100 acres of tree-lined riparian habitat. The city’s picturesque setting is further enhanced by Mission Trails Regional Park, a 7,220-acre open space reserve that offers a permanent mountain view for Santee’s western flank.

River Trail

Santee is poised to become the first jurisdiction to complete its portion of the cross-county San Diego River Trail, a multi-use path that enhances the city’s walkability and bikeability. The remaining gaps in the city’s riverfront trail, which total less than a mile, are expected to be completed within the next five years. Among the most popular and scenic is the 1-mile-long. Walker Preserve Trail, which connects to two miles of additional trails on the city’s eastern border.

The city’s parks inventory includes Santee Sportsplex USA, a 15-acre sports field complex that hosts regional and national softball, baseball and soccer tournaments.

Business Opportunities

Businesses and entrepreneurs interested in locating to Santee should contact Economic Development Manager Pamela White at or City Manager Marlene Best at